“Zelda Climbs Too Slow” Thoughts on Twilight Princess

My wife and I have been on a huge Zelda kick since getting Ocarina of Time 3D last month. We both beat it, and she wanted more. We watched YouTube videos going over the three timelines (Fallen Hero timeline as a concept is both interesting and stupid at the same time). And she wanted to play the “main” (aka console) games that she never experienced as a kid.

So we skipped Majora’s Mask 3D (temporarily) and moved onto Twilight Princess and Wind Waker HD. Now, I remember enjoying Twilight Princess when it came out in ’06. I was in my first year in college and I played it in my dorm room thinking it was a great “dark” “edgy” “mature” take on the Zelda series. I mean you stab mothafuckin’ Gannondorf in the chest at the end of the game. I mean how “badass” was it that Link’s character model had chainmail on underneath the iconic green tunic.

Playing the game for the first time in 9 years do I still think it’s “badass” or even “fun”? Yeahhh… not so much. In fact, after disliking 2011’s Skyward Sword, I can now see that many of the problems with Skyward Sword came from Twilight Princess.

Moving Goalposts

So why is it that Ocarina of Time feels so much more satisfying to play? I think a lot of it comes down to the goalpost’s of Link’s quest to save Hyrule. Let’s break it down.

  1. You’re told to get 3 spiritual stones
    1. each of these dungeons maybe has 1 requirement to access it (getting the bomb bracelet or the bottle with the note)
  2. You beat the dungeons and get the stones
  3. You become an adult and find out it’s just the beginning — Link’s goalposts move further back and the scope of the quest expands.
  4. You’re told you need the Sage Medallions and that there are 6 temples to beat to get them
  5. Each temple has maybe 1 requirement to access it (most involved ones include getting the Lens of Truth and doing Gerudo’s Fortress and then the child portion of the Spirit Temple)
  6. You beat the dungeons, get the medallions, and then go fight Ganon. You win game over. Link’s quest is complete!

Now let’s examine Twilight Princess. The goals aren’t as clear and the completion requirements change multiple times over the course of the game, sometimes for what feel like arbitrary reasons to either extend gameplay length or “because story, man!”

  1. You ranch some goats (no seriously)
  2. You feed a cat a fish and buy a slingshot
  3. You rescue some kids from some monkeys
  4. Some other stuff happens and you become a wolf stuck in the Twilight realm
  5. More stuff happens and you’re told to find the Fused Shadows
  6. Each Fused Shadow is in a dungeon buttttt you have to collect all the Light Orbs or something first
    1. There are 15 (16?) Light Orbs in each pre-dungeon are. You have to kill bugs to get them
      1. This is a proto-version of that bullshit mechanic in Skyward Sword
  7. Then you do the dungeons and get the Fused Shadows
  8. There’s a bit with a recurring fight against the Bublin King. It’s kinda fun actually. No complaints there
  9. More stuff about Fused Shadows. Then they get taken away and are useless. Then you get stuck as a wolf again.
  10. Then you’re told you need the Twilight Mirror. Of course it’s broken. So you need the mirror shards.
  11. Then there’s a bit about getting your girlfriend’s memory back.
  12. Then there’s the bit with fixing the cannon to get shot into the sky.
  13. Then you do the Twilight Palace and beat Zant. His boss fight is fun but the palace is super annoying with the Hand of Zant enemies.
  14. Finally you go to Hyrule Castle and fight Gannondorf.
  15. You win and game over!

That’s my oversimplification of the game, and in between many of these steps are parts where you have to backtrack across the map to do things like: get a fish so you can go meet some Yetis, recovering your girlfriend’s memory, deciphering a lost language, finding Owl Statues, flying a bird thing through some caves, fixing the cannon, talking to a doctor about his bar tab, and so on and so forth.

More like Grimdark Princess

After being fed up with Skyward Sword for its excessive talking and redundancies, it’s easy to see where that all came from. This game. Twilight Princess basically takes the same template as Ocarina of Time and adds *more* — more everything, more talking, more quests, more “epic.” And not only that more grit. ‘Cause that’s what the Zelda series was missing: grimness and grittiness. Twilight Princess tries to be the grimdark Zelda game, and it suffers for it.

Give me the quirkiness. Give me some light. Give a quest without excessive padding. Midna works as a character because she has a personality and she’s with Link for almost the entire game. You grow to care about her.

The other characters the game tells me I should care about? The ones it sends me on endless quests for? Yeah not so much. Ilyia is MIA for most of the game, barely has any lines, and is just a MacGuffin. The reward she gives you–a horse whistle–comes hours too late after you’ve already spent tons of time trekking across big ol’ empty Hyrule Field.

Other Quibbles

Presented mostly without comment:

“Zelda climbs too slow. 0/10.” –> comes from this and people calling Link “Zelda” all the time.

“That chicken thing is really freaky. 0/10.”

“Zelda runs too slow. 0/10.”

“I wish I was playing Ocarina of Time 3D again instead.”

Erin: “Why is the Temple of Time in the middle of the woods now? Wasn’t it in Castle Town before?”

Me: “They remodeled it. It was a ‘Love It or List It’ kind of thing.”

TripleZer0 Plays – Getting into Streaming

Pretty sure I mentioned my desire to start streaming/recording Let’s Play videos in my “About” section, but yesterday I took my first steps toward making that happen! You heard it here first folks, I now have an official Twitch.tv channel–TripleZer0 Plays–well official in the sense that it exists and you can go there and there may be video up at certain times.

Right now I have a super bare bones setup–just my (dying jet-engine soundalike) laptop, free Xsplit, and that’s it. I played some EUIV last night for about 45 minutes–shout outs to my 4 viewers!–and it went okay? maybe? I don’t know. Because my computer is old, I was only streaming/recording at 360 which is probably considered unacceptable. I also didn’t feel like using my mic, so it was just pure gameplay. Oh yeah, hot, hot zoom-in zoom-out map action. ‘Cause honestly that’s like 90% of what EUIV is–zoom-in zoom-out (thanks Northernlion).

But tonight I’m going to try and overcome my crippling hate-fear of my own voice. I’m going to dive back into EUIV but with my mic on. I’ll try to make a proper LP video. So join me in this glorious trainwreck!

Ocarina of Time 3D Thoughts

Playing Ocarina of Time 3D has been like injecting pure nostalgia right into my brain fun zones. I rented the N64 game so many times as a kid that really my parents should have just bought it for me–it would’ve saved them a ton! (OoT, StarFox 64, Goldeneye, and Shadows of the Empire are the four games that I think my family spent the most money on during my childhood.)

The 3DS remaster is pretty damn good. I like the new character models and I love how they made the whole game brighter. Being able to see in some of the darkened boss chambers makes things easier.

How they’ve redone the item system is a bit of a trade-off. Yay 4 items at once! Boo 2 of them are virtual buttons and kind of a pain to use! My wife and I went through the Water Temple over the weekend, and it’s been redesigned/tweaked (apparently), but I couldn’t see any differences. It was still a pain. I remember Dark Link being able to hurt you when he jumps on top of your sword in the original N64 version though. Now him jumping on your sword is just kind of cutely annoying. Oh look honey, he’s doing it again. Get off of there you little scamp!

Is Ocarina of Time the best Zelda game? Probably not. Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess both take top honors in my book. But Ocarina of Time wins the “I Remember a Ton of Tiny Details and Stuff from This Game because I Played It So Many Damn Times” award. And I have to say, this 3DS version is the definitive version.

Plus, getting to play it with my wife means both of us are on a serious Zelda kick. Next up will be Majora’s Mask 3D then we’ll dive into Twilight Princess and then I want to try the HD version of Wind Waker. (I’m never touching Skyward Sword ever again)

Achievements as Role Playing

I got back into Europa Universalis IV this weekend after finally buying the latest DLC. Part of what I’ve been doing the past two days is achievement hunting. In EU4, you have to play on Ironman mode where the game autosaves for you. So there’s no going back in case you make a bad decision or lose a war really badly.

Because of the game’s complexity, I’d avoided Ironman mode for a long time. I mean a loooong time. Over 400 hours worth of avoiding Ironman. I even uninstalled the game for a while, but I continued to watch Let’s Plays. So the past two days I’ve only played Ironman mode, and because I’m going for achievements, the game feels brand new to me. I think it’s because the achievement constraints force me to “roleplay” more than usual.

Like, in Crusader Kings II, you play as an individual with traits both good and bad. If as a player you want to “roleplay” you can rule your domain based on the traits the game gives your ruler. If your king is craven, then maybe you make it so they don’t lead knights into battle. Stuff like that.

Well in Europa Universalis IV, you’re playing in the era where conceptions of modern nation states came into being. No longer are you playing as an individual ruler, instead the player is their chosen country. If you want to be an aggressive warmonger there’s nothing stopping you (aside from the AI’s outrage).

The ability to save and reload meant that all my time playing in the past kind of ended up the same. The beginning of the campaign would be a little dicey, but by the mid and late games I’d be one of if not the strongest country in the world. I’d “blob out” in the words of the EU4 community. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but it can get boring.

The achievements make you play in certain ways, sometimes limiting your blobbing abilities or forcing you to grow in certain ways that normally you wouldn’t. For example, winning the 100 Year’s War as England, conquering Samarkand as Bengal, or avenging Hannibal by controlling the Mediterranean as Tunis. Some of the changes are incredibly difficult and I’m not skilled enough a player to beat them, but going for them sure brings a new sense of purpose back into this game.

Dyed Hair Don’t Care or Quick Thoughts on Bravely Default

*sung to the tune of “Long Hair Don’t Care”*

I know I’m late to the party, but I just picked up Bravely Default. I’ve got about 12 hours in it so far, and here are some quick thoughts. I’m experimenting with the form of this post–treating it almost like an extended string of tweets rather than anything as cohesive as an essay/article. Plus the title will make sense soon.

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Repost: Lego City Undercover Review

Who would’ve thought that on rookie cop Chase McCain’s first day on the job he’d find himself traveling all over Lego City trying capture elusive criminal mastermind Rex Fury? Well, you probably did because both characters are right there on the box. Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins is a 3DS prequel to the Wii U release that came out earlier this year.

While developer TT Fusion should be applauded for their ambition–trying to bring an open-world Lego City game to the 3DS–ultimately the hardware’s own limitations are what keep The Chase Begins from truly shining.

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