Tag Archives: The Legend of Zelda

Twilight Princess, ignoring the detractors

Since attending the Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses earlier this month The Legend of Zelda has been on mind rather a lot. I’ve been re-listening to alternative soundtracks from the series, such as the excellent Twilight Symphony by Zelda Reorchestrated, and delving back into the amazingly in depth fan theories. One thing that has come out of this is the realisation that I’ve paid very little attention to Twilight Princess.

I got the game along with the Wii the christmas that both were released. Even though it was essentially the GameCube version (which was released around the same time) albeit with widescreen support, it also featured the much touted motion controls which was the main defining feature (and that Link was now right handed and Hyrule’s geography had been flipped). Despite the new control style it still essentially controlled like previous 3D Zelda games, although aiming with an arrow was now much easier and the shield felt like a tangible tool.

When it was first released Twilight Princess received glowing reviews, some even claiming it was better than Ocarina of Time. Yet what followed, and seems like a trend (as pointed out in a recent Vice article highlighting their greatest moments in the series), the game is then ‘roundly criticised whilst its predecessor is reappraised as a classic’. Remember all the hate The Wind Waker got? A year after Twilight Princess came out Wind Waker was suddenly remembered very fondly.

A similar occurrence happened following Skyward Sword. Although that is not to say that Twilight Princess receives the same positive words as Wind Waker currently does (although that is in part due to the successful HD remake). I think it might have been because of the prolonged animosity towards Twilight Princess that I didn’t return to Twilight Princess for so many years, even though I enjoyed my time with the game and had no strong negative memories from it.

Last weekend I decided that it was time to replay this game that I had abandoned for so long. During my first hour I did start to agree with some of the detractors, it is a slow start, unnecessarily slow, as it doesn’t really teach you much either. Like in the way the series does so in Ocarina of Time or Wind Waker. Although I wouldn’t describe it as handholding either, quite the opposite actually, as at one moment I was genuinely stumped even though I had gone through it before. Then suddenly I had a “lightbulb moment” and everything fell into place. That’s when it hit me, this intro was like its own mini outdoor dungeon, one to acclimatise you to the Zelda logic required to complete the puzzles later on.

After the events that take place in Ordon Village and Link is transformed into a wolf for the first time the game begins to speed up and so far (I’m about to start the third temple) keeps up this momentum. What’s more I forgot how feature packed Twilight Princess is, there is a lot going on and this version of Hyrule is a world where you feel like you are not always alone, and when you are alone it has more impact. Even the two dungeons I’ve completed so far have had a few friendly inhabitants and I know there are upcoming dungeons that don’t just contain enemies.

What’s more Twilight Princess does a great job of fleshing out its narrative and the wider Zelda lore, but does so in a way where it’s not constantly bashing you on the head with heavy theory that you must know to proceed. Having played Skyward Sword I now know a bit more about the spirits that appear in Twilight Princess due to the existence of Dragon Guardians that appear in the former and therefore have a greater understanding of their relationship with the gods. Although does knowing this make the game easier to play?No, it makes next to no difference, but as someone who cares about the vast backstory of The Legend of Zelda it is elements like these that make the games even more enjoyable.

Of course Zelda games are often defined by their dungeons (even those such as Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask which don’t focus on them as much), so far Twilight Princess doesn’t disappoint (and I’m looking forward to getting to some of the more inventive ones later on). For now whilst the Forest Temple and Goron Mines have not done anything to really stand out (although the use of the Iron boots in the Mines was a nice touch) they have both been incredibly solid dungeons. I was impressed with how the Forest Temple just throws you in and lets you get on with it, and my journey through it was much more gratifying as a result.

The final part that I want to mention from my experience so far from replaying Twilight Princess is the inclusion of Midna. She is a great supporting character; there when you need her (unlike The King of Red Lions), but doesn’t go on like Navi, nor constantly disrupt you like Fi. Plus it helps that she is a likeable character, and one whose sole purpose isn’t to help and support Link, as she has her own modus operandi that just happens to overlap with Links.

Twilight Princess might have come out over eight years ago, but it holds up very well, in part helped by the support of 16:9 and also the sensible use of motion controls (on the Wii version anyway). I’ve thoroughly enjoyed traversing through this twilight filled version of Hyrule, and currently have the time to give it the attention it needs. If you’re finding the annual summer drought a daunting prospect, maybe dust off the Wii (or better yet boot up Wii mode on the Wii U if you’re not still playing 200cc on Mario Kart 8) and drop in Twilight Princess. Zelda Wii U isn’t until 2016 now, so this is a great way to get your next Zelda fix.

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Axby Stories: How Videogames influenced my musical interests

It’s been awhile since the last Axby Story but recently I’ve been thinking about how videogames have had a large impact upon the music that I listen to today. Prior to the time when I began dedicating more of my time to videogames music was a non-issue to me, something I would even claim to hate.

This began to change after playing Pokémon Blue. The soundtrack may have only consisted of bleeps and bloops but it was the catchiest set of tunes I had ever heard, and successfully managed to dispel my distaste of music. Although it would still be another few years before I would listen to music outside of a videogame for its own sake.

By the end of 2005 I had been listening to “normal” music for around a year, but I was still very much trying to find niche. SSX On Tour along with PGR3 were the two games that helped to provide me a collection of indie-esque and electronic rock music that was unlike what the charts were dictating or what my friends were listening to at the time. SSX On Tour took a different direction to SSX 3 which was bright and filled with club friendly tracks, as the focus now was more grungy and rock n’ roll; therefore the music had to reflect this. Out went Basement Jaxx and Fatboy Slim and in their place were LCD Soundsystem, Bloc Party, and OK Go.

The music present in SSX 3 did more naturally lend itself to blending with the extreme tricks that could be performed, but the music in On Tour managed to really drive the presentational shift. Now the music wasn’t just there to help drive the action, although it still helped, but it made you feel like the cool snowboarder/freestyle skier that you were playing as.

Interestingly enough PGR3, which launched at the same time (except on the newly released next gen Xbox 360) shared many of the same artists that appeared in SSX On Tour. Along with more electronic acts who would not be out of place in SSX 3. Because LCD Soundsystem, Bloc Party, OK Go, and a few others appeared in both games I had more exposure to their great music. As a result I made an effort to listen to the rest of the music by these bands, most of whom were still on their first album. What followed was a year in which most of my new music purchases were either from artists that appeared in either game, or ones that were very similar. I even made a mix CD (this was pre-Spotify playlists) containing my favourite tracks from On Tour.

Videogames also helped to bring to my attention the importance of classical music. During the mid teens the guitar might be cool, but the violin? Not so much. The thing is I had been playing various versions of The Legend of Zelda for a few years, but with the release of Twilight Princess I found myself getting into the the surprising amount of lore and theory that surrounds the series. This meant spending time on the various fansites. As a result I came across a couple of Japan only orchestrated soundtracks for Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask (remember these excellent soundtracks were made using MIDI) and suddenly I realised how special the music could be that classical instruments could create.

Although I don’t think I am the only to have experienced this revelation. As last weekend Joe and I  went to the Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses: Master Quest concert in London, and we were greeted with a diverse audience, but considering this is an event for an orchestra and choir could be deemed surprisingly young. Of course this was a crowd of dedicated Zelda fans, but that didn’t mean that they did not take the experience seriously.

After the first piece the director of the musical tour stated that it was “OK” for the audience to make noise as this was not a “traditional” concert. However, as this was a British crowd this advice was mostly ignored with only the occasional “woop” when a favourite piece was suddenly transitioned to or a certain event took place on the projection above. The benefit of this was that people were able to enjoy the music they came to experience. But the director was right, the little amount of interaction from the audience did add to the excitement, changing this from a traditional concert. What’s more the audience had no problem in showing their admiration for the performers as the final pieces were followed by multiple standing ovations. This was a celebration of a series that all who were present deeply cared about, taking part in an experience that they might not have otherwise been present.

Today my musical tastes are the result of numerous influences, but I can easily trace a significant amount of them to videogames. Because of SSX and PGR I found out about LCD Soundsystem which is one of my all time favourite bands (despite admirably closing up after three excellent albums), and there are other artists from those games that I still listen to and have seen live in the past. In many ways it’s about exposure to new sounds. Videogames are often credited with exposing people to new visions, but the sounds traditionally have often been forgotten. Without videogames my music journey would have been much shorter, and for that I am thankful for videogames.

So what IS the big deal about Majora’s Mask?

By Joe Strange


It’s the end of months of speculation, teasing and excitement, but today, Friday the 13th of February  (a pretty damn apt date for one of the darkest entries into the series) sees the release of the long awaited, and requested, remake of The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask.

So, I’m sure some of you are wondering, why has this one game, a game that’s only a remake, caused such a monstrous commotion in the gaming world? What makes this game, a game in a series that some argue is just the same story retold again and again, so special?

Because it’s a f*cking awesome game, that’s why.

Oh I know, I should elaborate.

For me, and for many other Legend of Zelda fans, when Ocarina of Time was experienced for the first time it was mind blowing; it had huge 3D environments, a story that carried the player over generations and a world full of character.

Then, 2 years later, Nintendo released Majora’s Mask. Using the same engine (but this time, with front flips), Majora’s Mask sees Link attempting to find an old friend (we assume Navi, the fairy companion from Ocarina). While wondering through the Lost Woods, Link is set upon by the Skull Kid and his two fairies  he steals Links horse and ocarina, and eventually turns him into a deku scrub. (He’s a bit of an ass-hole.)

When Link finds his bearings he discovers that he’s in the land of Termina, where, in three days, an evil faced moon will crush the town and destroy the residents of Termina and all the surrounding area.

It’s not even hypothetical, if you fail to stop the moon in time, at the end of the three days, a huge fireball will engulf the town and kill everyone. The townsfolk even take action in the run up to this, some flee, some hide, some even get their little sisters drunk so they won’t feel death.

Yeah, you head me right, this game is dark.

In fact, there’s a whole host of theories about Majora’s Mask being an analogy for Link’s death in the Lost Woods. I’ve talked about the Game Theorists before, and they’re take on that topic is really worth a look, if I’ve wetted your appetite.

It’s often considered the darkest game in the series, rivalled only by Twilight Princess, but that one’s more due to tone than actual content. Zelda games can be dark in places, but none are as harrowing as Majora’s Mask. But darkness alone doesn’t make a game good.

No, what makes Majora’s Mask stand out isn’t just the atmosphere, or the tightened controls from the previous game, it’s because it’s unique in being a Legend of Zelda game, that’s almost not a Zelda game.

First of all, there’s no Zelda, you’re not saving a princess, and there’s no Ganon, instead it’s a giant moon and a child possessed by an evil nightmare mask. There’s not any mention of the Triforce or the goddesses, and while Ocarina of Time had 9 full dungeons, including Ganon’s tower, Majora’s Mask has only 4, and they’re not really the highlight of the game.

You see, what really makes Majora’s Mask special is the time limit it sets the player. The player has 3 days, about one real life hour, to save the land, at the end of that hour, you either take on the moon (if you’re ready) or you reset the clock using the Song of Time, sending you back to the moment you arrived in Termina.

It’s basically Groundhog day, if Bill Murray had to fight a giant celestial body.

You might think that using the same three days over and over again is a cheap and lazy way to design a game, if so, you’re quite wrong. It’s not about that; Majora’s Mask is about the people you meet and interact with between the dungeons. The dungeons are a means to an end, the people you meet, the way they react to their demise, are the real stars of the show.

Like I said earlier, everyone in the town takes the threat of death differently and every single person has their own story, some overlap with others, while some are completely solitary. It’s reliving their last few days with them again and again that brings you even closer to the people of Termina.

One of the best ways it does that? Everyone you meet is based on a character you will have met when you played Ocarina of Time. You see, the game uses your previous connections to these characters, to the quest and interactions you had with them before, to make their new, darker stories even more effective.

Because the game is such a departure from the series’ staples, and because there hasn’t been a game quite like Majora’s Mask since, let alone in the Zelda series. It stands out as a fantastic, refreshing entry into the series, with fantastic key mechanics, with an engaging and heartfelt story. Majora’s Mask was kind of a big deal, and now that it’s been remastered, and reworked to iron out any kinks, if you’ve not played it yet, now is the perfect time to pick up my favourite game of all time.

Oh, yeah, I really like this game, hadn’t you guessed?

Coffee Time News 09/02/15

Is there a Hunger Games Prequel on the way? Is there a Legend of Zelda live actions series on the way? Is there no spoon?!

Film

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will be ‘taking risks’, according to Marvel and creator James Gunn. Apparently the sequel to last year’s runaway hit won’t be following any particular story already laid out in the comics. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans, since the original took some creative licence with certain characters. But in all honesty, if there’s one Marvel property that the general public won’t mind being altered slightly, especially if we get as good a product as the original, it’s Guardians of the Galaxy, since barely anyone knew about them before last summer.

Disney’s next big adaptation, Beauty and the Beast, which will star Emma Watson, may have found its Beast. Ryan Gosling has reportedly been approached to play the reclusive Beast, though with Gosling’s current trend of preferring smaller, independent films, (and turning down roles in Spiderman and the Ghostbusters) it could end up being a (hopeful) rumour.

Ah, when a franchise does well, it just keeps on cashing in doesn’t it? Apparently Lionsgate, the studio behind the incredibly financially successful Hunger Games series, is looking for developments and the possibility of a sequel or prequel to the series. Readers of the books will most likely lean towards a sequel, with the events leading to the first rebellion, lead by District 13 being a lot more interesting, than post book events. But with the risk of telling a story that everyone will have heard already.

Television

Agents of SHIELD returns on March the 3rd, and the newest trailer for the show focusses on the adage ‘what have they become’. After the events of the winter finale and the incident with Raina and Skye (Daisy) in the room with the Terragenesis process, the two characters have changed, for better or worse, and it’s also opened up the world of the Inhumans.

New images have appeared for the Sherlock Christmas Special. With a definite Victorian theme, there’s still a lot of conjecture about what exactly is happening. A dream? Hallucination? Flashback to the Victorian era? Who knows!

Well, this is news I was not expecting, and am still slightly dubious about: Netflix is working with Nintendo to create a live action Legend of Zelda series. It’s got no writer, no director and no cast, but it’s apparently in the works. Nintendo have a jaded history with screen adaptations of their work, (Oh, Super Mario Bros) and a wrong move on Netflix’s end could cause the company to back out. Nintendo are like a skittish dear. But the thought of a Zelda TV show is interesting to say the least: It’s got potential to be epic and huge, but they’d have to be really careful with such a beloved property.

Games

Turtle Rock’s Evolve is released tomorrow, and it comes with a hefty 3 GB patch to speed up load times when setting up matches, something I’m more than happy to download since nothing makes a multiplayer experience slower than bad load times, and lag, but that can’t be helped.

A while ago we reported on the Nintendo ‘creator’s program’, a way for Nintendo to monetise on the ever popular stream of Let’s Plays, while allowing the creators some section of the profits, while it’s been almost universally panned by big names in game play, it’s still popular, and Nintendo have said now that they can’t keep up with all the applications. Oops.

The DICE awards were last week, and one game ruled them all, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor raked up 8 of its 9 nominations, while Dragon Age Inquisition took the ‘top prize’ of Game of the Year. Check out the whole list here.

Good Vibrations

This week I’m going to be talking about good vibes! And no, I haven’t had a personality transplant. “Good vibes” is not a phrase I use often, if at all really, but after watching Kyle Bosman’s most recent episode of The Final Bosman on Good Vibes and Metroid Prime it’s all I can think about.

Like myself Kyle Bosman is a fairly straight laced individual, we both wear ties during a normal week, and formality tends to be the norm. Yet every now and then both of us can make statements that are out of the norm; and today I’m all about the good vibes! *puts on shades* *then takes them off because the screen is no longer viewable*

So why good vibes? Well the context for it is “game feel”. When you’re playing a game and there is just something about it that feels right. In essence it’s pure subjectivity. Hyrule Warriors might warrant a solid score of 7, but that game is full of good vibes! It’s satisfying wailing on hundreds of Zelda themed enemies and for me a considerable amount of the vibes comes from the excellent soundtrack, which is a collection of remixes of the classic Legend of Zelda music we all know and love.

In a way Nintendo are the masters of good vibes. It helps that their games are solid pieces of entertainment, if a Nintendo game was released in the same state as Assassin’s Creed: Unity then something has gone very wrong at Nintendo (and in the world). It is very rare for a Nintendo developed game to get a low score, meaning it is very difficult to say a Nintendo game is bad. Yet Kyle makes the good point that just because we think Captain Toad is a brilliant game, doesn’t mean everyone will like it. I might experience good vibes from it, but that doesn’t mean it will gel with everyone.

Recently I took advantage of Nintendo’s very generous deal for release of the Metroid Prime Trilogy on the WiiU. The Metroid Prime series is interesting because whilst I agree with Kyle about the good vibes that come from the original Metroid Prime, as a game I’m not a huge fan of it, mostly because I found the controls too clunky and this got in the way. Yet the games atmosphere is almost unmatched. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on the other hand does not excel in the same well in regards to its atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, it does have a really good feel to it, but nowhere near to the same extent as the original. However, the controls make the game so much more engaging, and as a result I’m enjoying my time with Corruption so much more, and therefore I’m in the minority for actually preferring Corruption over the original. That is the power of good vibes. Although I haven’t tried out the original using the motion controls, so that might change.

Of course there are non-Nintendo examples of this. Just last night I tried out the Battlefield Hardline beta. The interesting thing about playing the beta was that by the end of the evening I was having so much fun that it was distracting me from playing the game properly. The aim of the game is to shoot people, yet I was perfectly content messing about half way up a skyscraper and parachuting, or just faffing about in a helicopter. Getting a good score no longer became a concern of mine. In a sense the game failed. It wasn’t just me, I noticed as I went on the total scores of everyone else  dropped ever lower as well. Congratulations to EA for making a fun FPS, but as a competitive shooter it needs refining. So in this scenario the good vibes were of a detriment to the core game, which is a pretty unique situation for a game of this nature to be in.

Of course there are plenty of games with bad vibes, I think it’s safe to say that microtransactions are a considerable source of bad vibes (once again I’m looking at you Unity), but today I’m all about the good vibes. Some of my favourite games have received bad review scores, yet for me games like Killer7 and Deadly Premonition are a continued source of good vibes. So don’t worry about what other people say, if a game gives you good vibes, then its all good.

Stay groovy people!

 

*Next week the New 3DS comes out, so I’ll either have it and I’ll be irrationally praising it, or I’ll still be waiting and will be hyping myself up further like the irrational Nintendo fanboy that I am.*

Coffee Time News 19/01/15

American Sniper claims the Box Office top spot, Time Travelling Flash and Master Chief Collection Matchmaking gets another update.

Film

The first cast photo for Now You See Me 2; Second Act has appeared, and as well as showing off some new faces (Including Daniel Radcliffe) it also shows off Jessie Eisenberg’s shorter cropped hair. Now this could confirm that we will be seeing a bald Lex Luthor in Batman Vs Superman Dawn of Justice.

Oscar Nominated American Sniper starring Bradley Cooper has broken a bunch of box office records by raking in over $90 dollars in its first weekend. That’s a lot of money.

Add this to the ‘Spiderman’s in trouble’ pile but Felicity Jones, who you may remember played a small part in the Amazing Spiderman 2 as Felicia Hardy (the Black Cat), has recently come out and said that there are ‘no plans’ for her to reprise the role of the character. Which is a shame considering that with the loss of Emma Stone, that series will need someone like Jones to shift it away from being a bit of a boys’ club,

Television

Well this never bodes well, NBC have expressed their doubts that Constantine will be coming back for a second season after the full 22 episode run was denied late last year.

Fox are ‘hopeful’ about the return of the X-Files after actor Gillian Anderson rallied the show’s fans to show their support for a new season.

Everyone knew that The Flash would eventually be introducing the idea of time travel in the first season of the series (mostly because the show’s creators told us) well looks like we’ve got a date for our first time travel, the fifteenth episode of the show will see an accidental trip that’s played for both ‘hilarity and darkness.’

Games

The next update for the Halo Master Chief Collection will see more tweaks to the flawed matchmaking system as well as a heap of other updates for both the multiplayer and the single player games.

A few weeks ago we mentioned that Microsoft have changed their terms of use policy regarding monetising and gameplay videos on youtube and the like with their games. Well today they clarified it once again, and it’s good news. Titles like ‘let’s play Halo 5’ and ‘tips and tricks for Forza Horizon’ will be allowed. Read more about it here.

Majora’s Mask 3D has now got its own site where you can catch up on all the latest news for one of the most anticipated remakes of the year. And here you can check out the latest trailer for the game.

Coffee Time News 08/12/14

Film

Star Trek 3’s Robert Orci has stepped down as director, which leaves the project with one less runner. Who could take up the mantle?

Paramount have launched a ‘for your consideration’ campaign for the highest grossing movie of this year; Transformers Age of Extinction. The campaign? Best Picture at the academy awards.

Reports, er, report that Warner Brothers have approached Christopher Nolan to direct the adaptation of the novel ‘Ready Player One’.

Television

Fans of Community take a seat; I’ve got two new images from the upcoming Yahoo! Movies season, with two images of the new cast members and a run down of their characters.

The Arrow Vs Flash was a highlight of this television season, and now you can re-watch the superhero fight right here.

Stan Lee will cameo in episode 4 of Agent Carter it’s been announced.

Games

Nintendo recently released a first look at the new Legend of Zelda game, showing off it’s open world and huge map.

Shovel Knight is coming to Playstation! PS4, PS3 and the Vita will see the tiny knight next year, along with a special boss!

Check out Polygon’s storystream for all the news from this year’s Video Game Awards.