Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why I like the Legend of Zelda

I don’t really have a whole lot to write about most days.  This is largely due to the fact that I write off of my own experiences and what kind of things I’m working through myself (Maybe I’ll go down to one blog a week).

However, I can always talk about video games.

I’ve been running through the all of my Zelda games lately.  I just got on a kick of it I suppose.  I started with Ocarina of Time, then went to Majora’s Mask, and am now about 75% of the way through Twilight Princess (I will most likely play through Wind Waker as well).

I guess I just wanted to take a moment and express just why I like this series so much.

Obviously, the games largest appeal is because it fits into my “gamer personality”.  If you aren’t sure what yours is or if you just want to know what I’m referencing.  Check this article out; I think it captures most people really well.  I fell under the Adventurer and Casual Gaming categories.

Legend of Zelda games are, at their core, an adventure platformer.  I love being able to explore the world that is created.  I love being able to collect various gear (some reoccurring and some unique to each game), and I love experiencing the game as a whole.  Zelda games have always been exceptional at telling a story that can keep you on the edge of your seat and yet do it with such beautiful simplicity.  In fact, I would argue that at times every aspect of the game pulls the story together.  Not just the events or the dialog, but the art style used, the music, and even game mechanics.

Example: Skyward Sword, which has become one of my all-time favorites, uses an impressionist style of art.  You can see its influence when you look at some of the backgrounds which, at times, have an almost blurry, brush stroke effect.  However, every time there is conversation or a point of focus that blurriness dissipates so that the player understands where the important aspects lie. 

An example of game mechanics at work to tell the story is the learning curve the player experiences.  Still using Skyward Sword, the player gradually learns how to defeat different types of enemies and each one requires a different tactic.  So Link is learning how to fight just as much as the player as you control him.

Of course there are the cinematic that help, the dungeons you crawl through, even the bosses you fight.  They all contribute to the experience and overall story.

Of course, beyond the fantastic story that each one tells, there is the ingenuity that comes with each one as well.  Shigeru Miyamoto and his team have done everything they can to make each and every Zelda a familiar and simultaneously unique experience.  Even now, for the Wii U, his team is re-evaluating what a Zelda game looks like.  Which is why they are offering  Wind Waker HD  as a place holder.

  • Ocarina of Time was the first 3D Zelda Game
  • Majora’s Mask explored Shape Changes and the Power of a Mask
  • Wind Waker was the first Ocean Exploring game (to my knowledge), and first to deviate from the “realistic” approach.
  • Twilight Princess probably had the largest Hyrule Field and was one of the most expansive Zelda games to date.
  • Skyward Sword gave us 1:1 sword movement and over 60 hours of exploration.

Each one different, each one unique, and each one holds a special place in my heart for different reasons.  That is why I have such a hard time pointing at one and saying that it is my absolute favorite.

The Legend of Zelda series will most likely always be one of my favorites.

However, I’m not going to fool myself into thinking that the games are for everyone.  Everyone has their own play style, and their own tastes.  Some are content to just play Call of Duty Multiplayer all day, or Halo, and some would rather play sports.  I personally love a variety of games from puzzles (Zack and Wiki anyone?) to Adventure (Zelda), platformers (Mario) to FPS (Borderlands and Halo) and everything in between.  If it has a good story or has mechanics that make sense I’m usually down with at least giving it a try.

And that’s where I will leave it.  I encourage my readers to give a Zelda game a try.  If it is your first I would suggest trying Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword personally.  And give it a real go, don’t just play the first 30 minutes and give up on it.

If you’ve never tried a video game at all, I suggest trying something as simple as Mario Kart or even Wii Bowling if that’s more in your line of play.  There are a lot of games out there that are fun and actually very helpful to relax.

Remember, video games are just as much a form of Art as they are a form of “entertainment”, and not all video games are going to “rot the brain” (studies have actually shown the opposite to be true).

Grace and Peace

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