Category Archives: Fun Game Times

When Star Road Gets Real

Hey Gamers,

I’m sure for a portion of you, today’s article name may be equal parts exhausting as it is terrifying.

Pictured: Elton John Being Super Annoying When He Nails The Jump Short Cut Star Road

Seen Here: Elton John Being Super Annoying When He Nails The Jump Short Cut On Star Road

Mario Kart is a delightful series, one of my favorites in fact. Not to say it doesn’t have it’s off moments…and god damn if I can’t ignore the sheer brutality Star Road represents on any given day. As if blue shells weren’t irritating enough, now you’ve got to deal with their cheap shit for 30 minutes straight (average amount of time it takes to finish a single race on Star Road).

At least, that’s how long I remember it taking to finish a single race. Then again, my memories are obscured in pain.

No, The Star Isn't "Just Smiling": It's Laughing At Your Misery

And If You Gaze Long Enough Into An Abyss, The Abyss Will Gaze Back Into You

I suppose this is a rather grim way to reference a game I am always excited to play, but Mario Kart has this odd masochism about it. I enjoy the pain, truly and sincerely, despite the amount of blood I’ve lost in the process of playing it. So when news surfaces about the impending release of a new Mario Kart, it’s as if the anticipation is a painful one, in the best way imaginable. This statement becomes all the more real, when we come to discover that the latest trailer for Mario Kart 8 boasts suffering anew, and showcasing front and center none other than Star Road.

Yes, The Star Road.

And This Time, It's Fucking Alive.

And This Time, It’s Fucking Alive.

The new video I watched posted by IGN, which is a devil’s delight in several ways, had both the 64 version and MK8”s Star Roads side by side. This comes as a reminder of past pains and forthcoming failures, all in one amazingly demonic demo. Don’t get me wrong, this looks gorgeous, but so do succubus before they suck your soul directly out of your asshole at the last moment…or what I normally refer to as lap 3. I know my constant reference to Star Road’s length seems like hyperbole, but I feel as if I’ve successfully dealt with all five stages of grief the course causes faster than I’ve actually finished it.

Lap 2

Lap 2

Which was one of the first things that caught me off guard about the comparison, other than the amazing visuals of course: the entirety of Star Road featured in MK8 seems to be the length of a single lap from the 64 version. This leads me to believe that Nintendo may have actually listened to gamers for a change, but more likely they just blanked out the memories like I did and just straight forgot the 64 version was so miserably long. Anyways, not only did this pacing seem like it could really tighten up the tension of the race itself, but I was not kidding when I said Star Road is fucking alive.

First off, parts of the road are actually moving, as if possessed by some other worldly demon. Trying to wrestle with this bestial turbulence will most certainly breed a special kind of insufferable comedy. Combine this with the shelled or be shelled mentality of a regular Mario Kart sprint, and schadenfreude will be reborn in the image of Mario himself.

I AM THE PRINCE OF ALL KARTERS ONCE AGAIN

I AM THE PRINCE OF ALL KARTERS ONCE AGAIN!

Even aside from the lively atmosphere and even more lively road ways, the transformative vehicles from MK7 are making a re-appearence, and looking to add proper volume to the already engaging courses. The brand new anti-gravity tracks are equally proud mantle pieces, Star Road a perfect example of this, and contribute a pop and circumstance to the level design I haven’t seen in ages. When you consider all of the above blended together into one delicious treat, it doesn’t take me long to remember why it hurts so good.

And How Fucking Metal Mario Really Can Be

And How Fucking Metal Mario Really Can Be

I know I hyperlinked to the video above, but I believe it’s worth saving you the two seconds of work, just in case you think this is worth missing.

Cause it really isn’t, and brings about an irony perhaps even more devastating than Mario Kart and Star Road could ever really wrought. This is one of the only games I’ve witnessed getting people in a legitimate fever to own a Wii U, with almost no peers in this category during the consoles entire existence. Not only that, but despite the Wii U’s under-powered hardware, the game may be one of the most gorgeous racers I’ve seen this gen. The fact that Nintendo can put out games they may turn out this good, in all of their entrancing splendor, is almost aggravating. Much like myself, I feel as if this show of quality almost angers the devoted and would be devoted more than pleases them, because it reaffirms that Nintendo can still do amazing shit.

They just don’t make a habit of it any more.

~Pashford

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My Kingdom For A Heart

Hey Gamers,

I hadn’t really planned on writing anything today…not to say Valentines Day is a call to arms in any serious manner.

I Mean Seriously

I Mean Seriously

That’s not to say it can’t be seriously cute, either.

Seriously

Seriously

The urge to write kicked in regardless of what I wanted, which is healthy in a sense. I think I’ve successfully worked in this guilty reflex, where if I game for several hours in a row, it’s my duty to share and entertain, lest I be forgotten entirely. Gaming can be a rather insular experience, which in and of itself has it’s merits and virtues. Though I do believe not enough people are comfortable with the idea of some quality alone time, I also believe, and V-Day may be magnifying this within me: sharing is caring.

Well, Normally

Well, Normally

As you may have discerned from the posts name, ramblings about Kingdom Hearts are close at hand. I spent a chunk of time today playing some Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix/63 Coded Sleep Drops [chi] or whatever the fuck they’re calling this one. Leave it to Square Enix to fuck up the name of something as simple as an HD Collection, but I’m sure they’re not the only ones with naming issues.

Holy

Holy

Fucking

Fucking

Shit

Shit

Never

Never

Mind

Mind

Jesus Christ.

Continued idiocy with naming aside,  I was super psyched to finally sit down and play some KH1 after such a long time away from the experience. The choice of game, and what it’s about seemed fitting, considering what today is. I’m referring to of course, the games emotionally dark undertones of struggling to accept reality, and the harsh truth existentialism represents.

Er…I meant hearts and stuff…emotions etc.

It’s actually all in there, if you can believe it, and it’s a pretty god damn manic experience to tell you the truth.

Same

Same

Games

Series

It all just really adds to Kingdom Hearts charm, really. While the games have taken a nose dive into a cluster fuck of convoluted bullshit since day one, the first title still stands out as ambiguous enough to be appropriately come hither with it’s darkness.

Not that the story is what really drives the experience, Kingdom Hearts knows this on some level.  With a stable of characters from the likes of Disney and Final Fantasy at the ready, it doesn’t matter what is happening to the characters, but which characters it’s happening to. Getting Mickey Mouse and Sephiroth into the same room will never make any fucking sense, and that’s perfectly god damned reasonable.

Crossovers, no matter what they may be, are always going to be unapologetic fan service, it’s just finding the right creators who know how to say more than sorry when they merge our favorite universes. I speak to the quality content connoisseurs, who know how to imbue value and content into these fictional mash ups. The ones that end up creating meaning beyond the heavy exposition that makes up the light entertainment that it all truly represents.

You're Seriously Telling me Jack Skellington Forgot His Lesson About Meddling?

You’re Seriously Telling Me Jack Skellington Forgot His Lesson About Meddling, Which Almost Resulted In The Murder Of Santa Clause?

You know what, asses to the logic of it.

You had me at Jack Skellington.

Again, KH isn’t really trying to boast engaging narrative, more so just fun storytelling, which is fine enough for a game involving Existentialism and Winnie The Pooh. The first game, as mentioned, had just that right contrast of dark undertones covered up by light subject matter, something Square(soft) was a master of in another life time.

Besides, the gameplay always reigns king, and KH has that in spades. Being an action RPG, the game is never short on energy. Between the crazy worlds you pop in and out of, child hood memories crashing in at a moments notice, or being swarmed by a legion of heartless, KH has an excellent pacing about it. Considering this is a game you can easily get 40+ hours out of, it’s an impressive feat…to say the least.

Then again, Square(soft) could most certainly brag about an electrifying streak by the time Kingdom Hearts released.

Then Again, It's Rare Lightning Strikes That Many Times In A Row

Then Again, It’s Rare Lightning Strikes That Many Times In A Row

That Doesn't Stop It From Trying, However.

That Doesn’t Stop It From Trying

I know Kingdom Hearts is not officially within the Final Fantasy pedigree, but considering the modern day alternatives, it’s preferable, story nonsense fully intact. I was avoiding (and will continue to avoid) making this post into a “Shit On Square Circus“, as they really need no help in producing any more crap. More my point, Kingdom Hearts quality deserves my attention, it’s just hard to remember the title without the historical context, as it was the only game in the KH series released by Squaresoft, the beauty to Square Enix’s beast. Not to mention one of the last from the RPG Noble, before under going one hell of a transformation (merger).

But I digress.

So yeah, Kingdom Hearts 1 definitely had that cool crispness about it, fun concept, great design. The HD overhaul helps, as the in game aesthetic still totally holds up: the game just has the added benefit of cleaner visuals. The better art direction of any great video game tends to hold up long after the historic fact. A personal example would be why Wind Waker retained more visual charm than Ocarina after their respective times. Not to say both didn’t look good, but Wind Waker’s refined visual antics made it stand out, and that art style most certainly had legs.

The sights in KH are just as enveloping as the sounds, as each track coaxes you right into the mood of the scene. Whether it’s lost in a sea of seething darkness, or bouncing around on a tropical island, the game knows how to make you feel like you belong.

Home is where the heart is.

IT'S HOMELESS IN HERE, VERY HOMELESS!

FUCK I’VE BEEN EVICTED

From a simple combat system to a charming little facade, there isn’t much Kingdom Hearts 1 doesn’t do with fabulous style. Mind you, this isn’t a segway into another 2000 words of analysis contrasting the duality of the experience (which wouldn’t be out of my norm), it’s simply a celebration of hearts and kingdoms lost.

To put it another way, On V-Day, I normally go one of two ways.

First Way: Darkness

Darkness Is Spreading

Darkness Is Spreading

Second Way: Fuzzy

You Know, Spending Time With My Favorite Lady

You Know, Being Fuzzy Spending Time With My Favorite Lady

As far as my reference to being fuzzy, I would have happily discussed Zelda this very day, but I feel like that has been fucking covered. In any case, if you consider I kicked my day off by murdering hookers in GTA: Vice City, in conjunction with beating A Link Between Worlds, I was simply all over the place in deciding how best to deal with beating hearts.

Needless to say, this odd dynamic gave way to a healthy gambit of emotions, and combined to give me some well needed light, with a healthy dose of darkness. This emotional contrast was rich, and fulfilling, and is likely what drove me to explore my various moods, through the sincere inclination that is Kingdom Hearts.

Thanks For The Memories, Guys

Thanks For The Memories, Guys

~Pashford

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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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A Link Between Posts

Hey Gamers,

A Link Between Worlds continues to thrill me with it’s sense of artistry, and how Mr.Aonuma’s team really went all out in creating a gorgeous looking world you can really jump into.

ALBW Jumps

I Know, I Know

You Saw What I Did There

You Saw What I Did There

I wasn’t even sure if I was going to Link these articles into a trio, but I stand corrected. Who knows? We may get a quadrilogy out of my thoughts, with my fourth post talking more about the in’s and outs of the armaments and multiplayer elements ALBW has to offer.

Hmm…I’ll have to think of a good name.

While I have no definitive focus in writing about ALBW today, I never really have a definitive focus, and it hasn’t turned out poorly yet. Besides, some of the aspects of the game I want to discuss don’t really involve playing the game, as much as they center around ideas the game has inspired. As I made mention of in yesterdays post, the “wall hugging” aspects of ALBW really ties the game together. It’s obvious the experience was built from the ground up with merging in mind, and the ability feels just such, and not more so a gimmick to distract from the gameplay.

Yet Another Fate Link Doesn't Always Avoid

Yet Another Fate Link Doesn’t Always Avoid

My mention of Skyward Swords motion controls are in acknowledgement, and not agreement of their accused gimmicky nature. I’m taking a breath as we speak, so as not to completely derail from my ALBW focus. I could write entire an series of articles detailing the dialogue surrounding Skyward Sword, and the Wii era in general, so bare with me as I struggle against the urge. In any case, while I’m not congruent with the angry detractors Skyward  Sword definitely had, it was hard not to hear the outcries of it’s stubborn use of motion controls. Ignoring all other premise involved with the argument, it didn’t matter whether the motion controls were good or not, it’s that motion controls just aren’t good for some people. Even more alarming, is that some people who don’t enjoy motion controls, also happen to like Zelda.

True madness.

This realization alone should have forced Nintendo into a compromise, and allowed for a pro controller or wave bird alternative to make everyone happy. If the goal of your game is to reach a wider audience, (See: Nintendo Blue Ocean Strategy), then customized controls are the first logical step towards including the largest number of gamers (buyers) as possible. Think of it as kind of a …”Between Worlds” option, one that would benefit all kinds of players.

Let Me Think Of A Good Comparison

Let Me Think Of A Good Comparison

I imagine some of you laughing, while others are thinking to themselves “bitch don’t know comparative analysis worth dick”.

Fuck you, and give me a second.

The comparison isn’t exact, in paralleling ALBW on the 2DS and proposing SS be played with regular controllers, only because I referred to the wall hugging as the gimmick, and not the 3D of the device itself. However, when one considers the motion controls for SS were a bi-product of the Wii’s functionality, then Nintendo offering up the 2DS (and subsequently being able to play ALBW without the 3D as a result), shows us a clear case where Nintendo was quick to correct innovative assumption. Once again, I don’t dislike the 3D on the 3DS, and I can play with the effect full blast for hours. I can however, hear noticeable cries against the implementation of the 3D, whether it be through it’s inclusion as a gimmick, or just the fact that the 3D physically bothers their eyes (and hurts the wallets).

Kind of re-framing my point for a second, the 2DS kind of represents a (thankful) awareness on Nintendo’s part, that for once, a gimmick gamble didn’t pay off. This is in stark comparisons to when it certainly did with the Wii, by stupid fucking amounts, but the continued trouble the 3DS has had, from early attempts with the apologetic ambassador program, to the inclusion of the far cheaper 2DS, proves that Nintendo has only been able to make right in recent times, by admitting how terribly wrong they were.

Sadly, Nintendo just doesn’t have that old school nostalgic infallibility they were once known for. In some ways, Nintendo lost it’s Power a long time ago.

Nintendo Power Doesn't Exist Anymore.

In More Ways Than One

So, after some deliberation, and an extremely round about point, I think just analyzing why Nintendo came out with the 2DS is a serious indicaton, in a weird way, there really is no reason to have refused Skyward Sword players an alternate control method at all. It’s been made perfectly clear Nintendo can’t be on a high horse of success when they’re dodging low hanging tree branches of logic, and I think SS would have been more warmly received and just more played ($$$), had they just released an alternative control scheme to begin with.

It’s way easier than coming out with a whole new console.

Way Easier

I’m Guessing

Wait, what was I suppose to be talking about? A Link Between Worlds? Well, that didn’t really work. I’ll just rename the piece “A Link Between Posts” and act like I was tying two separate points in time together through some clever editing.

They’ll never know.

Entirely focused or not, I think we covered some good ground today. We learned wall hugging is easier than sword fighting, and that ignoring those who matter most will cost you dearly in the long run. Oh, and Zelda rocks…but I’m not sure my post was entirely needed to impart that truth. While I am of the firm belief gaming benefits creative solutions and fun effort, that’s not to say there isn’t more than one way to approach a problem, and sometimes the best solution is often the simplest. I said yesterday that in order to enjoy ALBW, all you had to is think fourth dimensionally.

Simply speaking, thinking fourth dimensionally isn’t always required.

Sometimes it’s best to just avoid tripping over yourself.

Something I've Had A Lot of Pointers On

Something I’ve Had A Lot of Pointers On

~Pash

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Fourth Dimensionally

Hey Gamers,

Following up on my last post, I continue to share some thoughts on the most recent Zelda adventure, A Link Between Worlds, in a continued effort to regain a writing edge. As some readers may recall (or are more likely irritated about), I promised my follow up to Between Worlds “for tomorrow” on the 12th. It is now the 17th, four days after “tomorrow”.

Valve Time 2

I’m sometimes misled by my inspirations

For any of you who don’t get that joke, count yourselves lucky.

You don’t feel the pain, either.

There’s more than one way to feel like a free man, and one of my favorite ways exists within the dimensions of Hyrule. Though I was late to the party in playing ALBW, I have been non the less delighted in my experience in playing it. Being the follow up to the highly praised A Link to the Past, I’m sure the team working on this greatly awaited Zelda game were slightly worried that they would fuck it up. From the out pour of positive press response and fan reaction, I’d say they escaped a terrible fate.

Something Link Doesn't Always Avoid

Something Link Doesn’t Always Avoid

I spoke at some length about the visuals in my first post, which wasn’t necessarily what I meant to do, but there ended up being value in the ranty extrapolation. I think there are plenty of eye catching elements of ALBW outside of the pimp walking denizens of Hyrule, not in the least of which is the game’s newest power: Wall Hugging.

Looks Like Wall Hugging To Me!

Looks Like Wall Hugging To Me!

Err, on second thought, anyone who “wants a hug” with that blank of an expression on their face is probably a murderer.

I’ll give Link a fair shake here, that picture involves him getting recently “rubbed out”…or is that rubbed in? Getting it rubbed in was definitely occurring when the screen shot was taken, as Link’s ability to wall hug initially comes about as an act of vengeance, and not of charity. The whole scenario is reminiscent of Majora’s Mask, in which a series of unfortunate events dooms Link to live the remainder of his life as a Deku Scrub. But, much like in Majora’s Mask, Link turned it around to his advantage, and instead of a fate worse than death, he gains a powerful ability that lets him fight another day.

Historically speaking, when life gives Link lemons…

Shit Gets Fucking Crazy

Shit Gets Fucking Crazy

The ability to “merge” with walls comes about early on, as the new mechanic does act as the main facet of game play. Not to say endless exploration, sweet dungeons, and an awesome soundtrack don’t help create any Zelda experience, but every game brings about something new. Ocarina had Time Travel, Wind Waker had sailing, and Skyward Sword had flying. ALBW has the cool merging power, which allows Link to become one with walls, which figures into exploration, puzzles, and even combat.

Or Avoiding Combat Entirely

Or The Avoidance Of Combat

The minor aspects of stealth that come with the merging do make me happy, however unintentional they may be. I’m aware that Tektite in the picture sees Link, which may force you to question just how “stealthy” Link is really being.  I take this moment to deposit that even if the Tektite had a mouth, it would keep that shit to it’s fucking self.

No one is going to believe him.

The wall hugging is used, frequently, and in good taste. It transforms traversal in the Zelda world in fun ways, the whole act kind of begs you to think about level design just a little bit more. What once was a hole is now a detour, crevasses acting as oddly disguised road signs. I had read from many that it can take a little while to get use to, and I can understand why. Playing Zelda in such a straight forward 2D way can kind of mess with your muscle memory, especially when you need to start heavy mental lifting in new ways. I feel as if in good Nintendo fashion, the “tutorial” area immediately following the ability to merge, in all of it’s subtle glory, gave you every piece of information you’d ever need about how to best utilize the power.

This sly method of teaching has helped to make some of the best games Nintendo has ever made.

Mario 3 Learning

Those Fun Moments You Don’t Even Realize You’re Learning

You can’t endlessly merge of course, having the ability to become one with a wall for as long as you choose would be ridiculous fantasy. You have a gauge that gives you a limited time as a drawing, which I’m sure was an effort towards in game balance and simplified level design. You also can’t scale while wall hugging, making sure you have to explore the vertical nature of ALBW, along side knowing the horizontal in’s and out of the game’s architecture.

And Yes, That Was A Terrible Pun

I Apologize For Cracking Such Terrible Puns

And vertical it will become. ALBW represents a more concentrated effort on Nintendo’s part to make a Zelda game high volume, in every conceivable manner. While most games just try to get wider, only the best game’s tend to get deeper. Indeed, you can move in and out of the game’s environments, but the game has an equal knack for reaching new heights. This helps give ALBW a special kind of jazz, one where a 2D adventure climbs to new heights in order to impress you with some high riseing designs. From the over world of Hyrule, with it’s varied heights and tiered geography, to many of the levels having more than a dozen floors reaching well past the heavens. The entirety of ALBW acts out as The Legend Of Zelda: Wonkavator Edition. Regular Zelda games only allow you to go forwards and backwards…

A Link Between Worlds, however, allows you to go sideways, and slantways, and longways, and backways.

Spoiler Alert: The Ending To A Link Between Worlds

Spoiler Alert: The Ending To A Link Between Worlds

Also, that may be the first time in the past four years someone has visually referenced Willy Wonka on the internet without the use of condescension.

Edit: Never Mind.

I rather enjoy the spatial challenge and demanding awareness all of these new aspects of ALBW enforces. I am of the firm belief gaming benefits from creative solutions and fun effort, and the best way to coax that out of players is with challenge and imagination. The first part of the game has not yet stumped me in either puzzle or exploration, but this may be due to the idea that in order to fully enjoy ALBW, all you have to do is think fourth dimensionally.

Something I've Had A Lot Of Pointers On

Something I’ve Had A Lot Of Pointers On

~Pash

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Between Worlds

Hey Gamers,

As some of you may have noticed, I have been away, though it was anything but a vacation.

I would in fact describe the absence as overwhelming, though words alone would fail to do my time away justice.

This Comes Close.

This Comes Close, However.

I’m being a bit dodgy about the subject, but it’s due to the rather raw nature of the actual departure. I’m not yet equipped to to anything but quip about it, and that’s through a strong effort to mention it at all. I’m sure I will summon the courage to write about the time I spent in my own personal hell, but that time is not now.

That’s because right now…it’s Zelda Time.

Indeed

Indeed

I immediately apologize to anyone who thinks a Majora’s Mask post is incoming, as it is not the Zelda game up for discussion this day. I chose that screenshot due to it’s fun symbolism; even when trapped in the shittiest situations, Link still manages to save the day. Not to say most video games don’t give me a reason to get up in the morning, but Zelda is the closest to a sunrise I’ve encountered in the gaming verse. Putting aside flowery prose for a second, I was in dire need of something really interesting to write about. Part of my time away, entailed accumulating rust around my writey bits, causing a strain to put any thoughts onto a screen meaningfully. I had been lucky enough to score A Link Between Worlds for Christmas, and had been trapped in mad enough turmoil to not have started the game yet.

True horror unmatched.

Barely Matched

Barely Matched

I’m assuming my love for Zelda is common knowledge to many regulars, but I always try to play it safe and declare my bias before hand. I think the context to the situation is just as relevant as what is happening within it, background making the foreground a far more immersive experience. Despite my bias,  I’m very aware Zelda doesn’t always get it right, the series having been exposed as vincible in concept before. Even with some of the games missteps, they almost always  provide a strong relief, giving me a formula I’m intimate with, letting me skip right past the awkward first dates and just spending a night without worry.

Zelda can be sexy in that way.

We Have Off Nights, On Occasion.

We All Have Off Nights, Of Course.

I had portable Zelda’s on watch for awhile, Phantom Hourglass having shoved me right off the cliffs of tolerance. The game’s low quality represented a certain kind of inspiration, a dark one albeit, but one that inspired worry within me for the future of bite sized Zelda. Ocarina 3D helped to put some positive shine on portable Zelda titles, and the more I heard and read about A Link Between Worlds, the more I craved the adventure. Link to the Past is one of the highest plateaus the series ever reached, so the failure to do a direct follow up, left fans scratching their heads. Not setting another Z game in the same universe stood out as odd, with many scrambling to rationalize the failure to act. The whole thing was absurd, almost like Nintendo was too busy fucking multiple things up at the same time to even acknowledge their ongoing fuck up, like the big N had written a note to itself a decade ago about doing a follow up and misplaced the note shortly after.

Nintendo To Do List 2

Nintendo’s Strategy To Make The Gamecube A Success

Better late than never, I suppose.

Immediately, A Link Bewteen Worlds nostalgically thrills with a remix of ALttP title screen. The new music track represents the subtle blending of old and new, something that figures more predominantly in ALBW than other Zelda games. I’ll take this moment to point out that’s a forecast of things to come, as I have not finished the game. This is more of a better late than never preview, of a game that’s already come out. Cut me some slack, people.

This Comes Close.

Personal Hell, Remember?

The game doesn’t start out quite as darkly as ALttP (literally or figuratively), but I feel as if Nintendo’s aim is a proper follow up, and not just a total rehashing of the events of the first title. The top down of 2D Zelda’s gone by is still intact, but the lack of sprite based visuals creates an odd dilemma for the new graphics engine. When briefly pondered, you can imagine the flaw this brings into the presentation; you the player are given an isometric view of the action, one that looks down upon the action, but from more of an angle than past Zelda titles. This created visual issues (like Link being hard to identify), and the way the devs got around this is only slightly ridiculous, when thought about for more than a second.

Or Gazed Upon For One Hilarious Minute

Or Gazed Upon For One Hilarious Minute

Perhaps I just giggle when I think about Link and the entirety of Hyrule pimp walking to and fro their entire lives, effectively making the land of Hyrule Pimp Central. Absurd antics aside, the visual trick does work for the best of both worlds, but it begs the question why Nintendo didn’t stick to the sprite based stuff for ALttP sequel in the first place. The new visuals are quaint, but perhaps not “classic”. The original art style of ALttP is fully intact, so the characters and locale are familiar and lively, but lacks a certain nostalgic punch a sprite based system would have packed. At least for me, it’s really bizarre to see the spirte based  Zora’s (of Zelda’s past) look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon in, instead of their appropriately effeminate presentation used in Ocarina of Time.

So How Did Ganon Decide Which Race Of Creatures Were The Biggest Pieces Of Shit In Hyrule?

So How Did Ganon Decide Zora’s Were The Biggest Pieces Of Shit In Hyrule?

Or do pigs just really like sushi?

Look, I’m not saying Ganon was the cause of how fucking ugly the Zora’s became, but it’s clear that he hated the living hell out of them, and we can look at Zelda cannon to affirm who could have had the most influence on how Hyrule developed. The Imprisoning War does occur in the timeline where Link is defeated by Ganon, and who effectively cast the world into disfigured darkness. Hell, Ganon was such a dick, in seven short years in OoT, he froze over the entirety of Zora’s domain, killed their flesh incarnate Water God, and left only the King of a now demolished race of people to suffer the fate of solitude in an empty kingdom.

I think it’s safe to say the man from the desert hates the people from the ocean, and if he had wanted to conjure the ugly tree, just so he could break off all of the branches to beat the ugly into every last undeserving Zora, the mother fucker would not have been stopped.

Guy’s got control issues.

Clearly, You're Upset

Clearly, You’re Upset

Almost positive this stress fest is an equal opportunity genocider though, so I’m not wrongly accusing him of xenophobia here.

Just mass death.

Regressing slightly, without the sprites, the visuals of the game feel as if the only way ALBW isn’t entirely faithful to the original, but still manages continuity, which counts for something. If we look at Phantom Hourglass, I feel as if Nintendo tried too hard in emulating the graphics from Wind Waker, which left Link looking like a diseased mess. Cel-shading may not be as graphically taxing as other visual styles, but you still need some capability of hardware to bring out the charm, or fail miserably in the process.

Nailed It

Nailed It

I don’t know, this is one of those moments I’m schizophrenically playing against myself, as if two sides of me (Dr. Game and Mr.Hype) are arguing against each other for what the right approach was. If ALBW was truly sprite based, would the decision have provoked more detractors to accuse Nintendo of lazy rehashing, or would Nintendo have failed to capture the visual fervor of ALttP, much like they did with Phantom Hourglass’ pursuit of Wind Waker lovely looks? Maybe the best looking reality exists between the two, where a more magically stylized art  approach would have fit the bill. A kind of hand drawn inspired 2D amalgamation to really make the fantasy world pop and glisten.

Braid

Braid

Rayman

Rayman Origins

Dust

Dust: An Elysian Tale

Just a couple of examples from the top of my head. I know they’re all side scrollers, but I don’t believe much in the way of substance would have been lost in the perceptual transition, had Nintendo gone with something more vivid. Hell, even direct Zelda clones, like 3D Dot Heroes and Okami, tried and succeeded in pulling off some very daring visuals, and they’re all unabashed clones adhering to the sincerest form of flattery. Even from just casual debates with myself, what is the “right” art style is is a hard call, which is why maybe Nintendo decided on what they did, in picking that “Between Worlds” look. Sometimes, when you’re between a rock and a hard place, the only thing you can reasonably do is to bear down and struggle against the overwhelming powers that be.

Between Worlds

Between Worlds

As per my usual operating procedure, I have developed more ideas than I have time, and will effectively save the rest of my thoughts for tomorrow. Needless to say, I had a good feeling something as quality as Zelda would coax me into an imaginative fervor, and A Link Between Worlds has sparked some very needed creativity.

~Pash

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WWSMBD?

Hey Gamers,

My attempts at informing weren’t completely in vain in yesterday’s post, however basic the observations may have been.

It Was An Obvious Forecast, Is All I'm SayinG

It Was An Obvious Forecast, Is All I’m Saying

Gamers being surrounded by shooters is a reality we must live with, though we can choose not to engage in it. The console boys will continue to debate which version is best, while the PC guys laugh and laugh. Not to say some of the biggest shooters of all time haven’t been on consoles, which goes to show no matter the disadvantage, convenience can be key in bringing an experience to any crowd of people.

Weren't We All

Weren’t We All

I realize we’re fast approaching Halloween, and I’ve yet to make any sort of reference to it, besides this sentence. I was thinking about writing a video game related horror story, one that truly chilled to the bone, the mere mention of the tale in passing causing one’s blood to boil, and skin to crawl.

Honestyly, I Really Didn't Feel Like Reviewing Fable 2 Again

Honestly, I Really Didn’t Feel Like Reviewing Fable 2 Again

I’m not against topicality in my own devices, I’ve been known to be trendy, from time to time (hyperlink?). Considering the slight struggle it’s been to get any posts up due to energy levels, let alone holiday theme posts involving planning and panache, and I’m just happy to get any writing out at all for you to enjoy.

If you really want something scary, Steam’s having one of it’s ridiculous holiday sales, and I’d be amazed if you had played every single goddamned game discounted right now. Titles like Condemned, Amnesia, and Vampire: Bloodlines are all rock bottom in price, and do a good job at forcing you to face your fears. Other games, and one’s I haven’t even got around to trying yet, like Home, The Swapper, and Outlast, all have their respective charms in the unsettling.

Or at least, so I’ve heard.

If nothing else, just looking at Steams sales page and seeing how cheap everything on it really looks, will provide you with unparalleled levels of horror and disgust.

Don’t believe me?

A Screen Caption Of Steam's Sales Page

A Screen Caption Of Steam’s Sales Page

I actually truly apologize for that cheap scare, a page of ATE is no place for monster closets, I’ll leave that bad habit up to Doom 3.

And The Demonic Spawn It Shit Out At Us

And The Demonic Spawn It Shit Out At Us

Well that’s weird, I thought for sure that picture was going to be of a Mancubus from Doom 3, I saved the picture on my computer as “The Fat Ugly Demon Monster From Doom 3” after all. Hold on, let me find the one labeled “Rush Limbaugh”.

Here it Is

Here It Is

There, now the joke works. Well, whatever you play this Halloween, whether it be ass kicking your way through a base on mars, or clawing your way out of the literal depths of hell itself, make sure you treat yourself to some proper scares.

Be a gamer…live a little, die a lot.

WWSMBD?

WWSMBD?

~Pashford

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