Gaming without your brother

Category Archives: Zelda

I started this draft awhile ago, and originally the title was “I will buy a Wii U for Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze.” I am the ultimate sucker for anything Donkey Kong Country related. Have you guys played Donkey Kong Country Returns? Dat game! So good! I don’t know what the critics ended up saying about it, but it had so much charm and the jammin-est tunes since the original Donkey Kong Country, I don’t know how people have survived without playing it. And yeah, I’m being hyperbolic, but Donkey Kong Coutnry Tropical Freeze looks so good and a beloved video game company is doing so poorly . . . I just want to help somehow.

I’ve always been a Nintendo kid. My pedigree includes the NES, SNES, N64, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, and the Wii. I’m a sucker for all Mario, Donkey Kong, and Zelda-themed games. I’m constantly on the fence about splurging and jumping into the portable Nintendo world again, just for a taste of some more Mario KartZelda, and Super Mario Brothers. My frugality has won out so far, but with all of the headlines Nintendo has been making recently about a deeper and deeper plunge into the red . . . my heart breaks a little as I acknowledge my bank account is desperately incapable of helping even the amount of the price of a new console.

I used to think Nintendo was invincible. Even when the 360 and PS3 started eclipsing the Wii hardware, I thought “No way – Nintendo still has something novel here.” And even when the Playstation came out with the Move I thought “Too little too late, suckers.” When Microsoft came out with the Kinect, I thought, “Whoa. That’s pretty cool . . . but Nintendo will pick it back up shortly, they just need a few months.” Time passed, there were more and more reboots of the same IPs and still Nintendo stood in the shadowy plane of 720p behind it’s competition.

When they announced the Wii U, I thought there were some  cool features (different functionality on the controller screen versus the main monitor, playing from the controller and being able to give up the TV on demand); unfortunately I knew deep down it would be up to developer buy-in to really launch Nintendo’s console over the moon. People were worried about release titles, but I sagely remembered that no consoles have good titles at launch, so who cared? Then, the hardware specs came out. All so disappointing. All so subpar. All so definitely not next-gen. Was Nintendo losing its touch?

Time has shown . . . that perhaps they have. I’m not saying I won’t still buy a Wii U at some point, but a Playstation 3 is definitely higher on my list, as are a lot of games. But where does that leave this title, and my favorite franchises? I don’t know, to be honest. It’s with a heavy heart and a hanging head that I doubtfully look at the Wii U price, and games available for it.

This is all very rambley and I know it. Grief is rambley. And of course this is all a little over-dramatic, a little tongue-in-cheek, but honestly at the end of it, I do feel anxious about Nintendo’s future, and how little they’re motivating me to help. I’m undecided if one classic title will be enough to make me pull out my wallet and jump to their aid.


believe other people have blogged about this fairly recently. Part 2 of this series came out last week, a friend sent it to me, I watched parts 1 and 2, and have now formulated opinions about this, then remembered that people might’ve already spoken about this. So wa hoo, I get to add my voice to the mix!

Frankly, anyone who finds fault with anything that Anita Sarkeesian has said in any of her videos are not thinking critically enough. I’ve been binge watching her whole channel now (spoiler alert: I love it) and I can’t recall if it’s in her tropes video or an earlier video, but she points out how just because we critique something doesn’t mean we don’t love it. I think some critics may have missed that Sarkeesian loves the classic games she picks apart in her part 1 of the series. She says she was raised on Nintendo. It’s not that I don’t love video games, but it’s undeniable they need to step up their game in regards to equal treatment of women in narratives.

And I love her point that they need to step up their treatment of men in narratives. It’s weaksauce to pin character development on the loss of a loved one, and obviously so hackneyed. Do more for your Hitman, your Max Payne, your male protagonist!

Her evidence is unshakable – there are way too many damsels in distress in video games, and way too many “killing women to save them,” and all of the other points she brings up. I think people get defensive about video games and this issue because no one wants to be labeled as a misogynist for playing these games or for not noticing earlier. If I was insinuating that, I would be indicting myself as well. I never noticed these things before Sarkeesian’s videos brought them to my attention.

That doesn’t mean I’m an idiot for not noticing, it means someone has given me some new, good information that can improve the future of video and the future of my video game involvement. That’s to be celebrated, not balked at! It also doesn’t mean these things didn’t exist before, or that because you didn’t notice they aren’t there. It’s just a testament to the pervasiveness of patriarchy in all media outlets.

Finally, lots of people like to argue that the developer didn’t want to say that so it’s taken out of context, and she’s digging to meaning that’s not really there. Here’s the thing about that: it’s not about what you recognize, it’s about what you subconsciously absorb. Anecdote: I worked with a guy who let his 4 year old son play Red Dead Redemption. The kid killed a prostitute in the game, then the next day drew his toy sword on his mom’s throat and said something to the effect of “I’m a cowboy like the game!”

I would bet cold hard cash it wasn’t a conscious decision to think “Oh, I have to commit violence against women to embody this new exciting game that I played” but subconsciously, that’s exactly what happened. We’re absorbing and learning behaviors about how to treat women based on the entertainment we consume. That’s why the rest of Sarkeesian’s videos about a broader spectrum of pop culture are equally valuable and fascinating to me. People try to debate this EVERY DAMN DAY to me and while I try to be really open-minded 100% of the time, everyone who disagrees with me is incorrect. We all absorb what we see, consciously or unconsciously. Often these don’t mean we’re going to go out and kill prostitutes (but for some horrendous people in really extreme, unlikely circumstances, it does) but it does mean we just moved the water level of respect of women one millimeter lower in our subconscious. Because people don’t see that in everyday interactions in the minute scale it occurs in, it is ignored, scoffed at, and dismissed.

Here’s the take away: People will make you uncomfortable by pointing out biases you didn’t know you had, and pointing out some of your favorite things that might have really unsavory aspects to them (e.g. I absolutely love Red Dead Redemption, but yeah . . . there are problems in it on a social level, most definitely). So, if you previously ranted against Sarkeesian for her cold hard facts about how women are treated in video games, reassess what made you so defensive in the first place, swallow some pride, and acknowledge your discomfort so you can have an honest conversation with yourself about the content you love (and that I love too) and how it treats women and minorities and how that affects you or others who play the game. It doesn’t mean we have to abandon the games we love. It means we have to be informed consumers of a culture we love and participate in, and perhaps, when given a chance to vote with our dollar or internet comments, we can lean towards making choices that support/further positive women roles in video games, and help others do the same.


Two posts in one day? She’s gone mad!

Quite the contrary. I’ve gone focused. And this comes and goes, so who’s to say how long this bout will last but I just applied for a game writer position with a company and I think the mix of it being near my hometown (which I’m quite desperate to get back to) and it being a job listing that didn’t explicitly state that I need five years of game writing experience on AAA titles only has me wanting this one really bad. So bad that I don’t think I’ve ever drafted a more passionate cover letter. It may be over the top, I’m having my personal editor check it out for me (thanks, brother) before I do anything drastic, like submit a first draft, but I figured this raw passion should be remembered somewhere.

I figured the first paragraph had to address some of the specific skills they mention that I believe fall under my particular skill set and previous work experience (like copy writing and editing). Everything after that I thought “what could I write that would make me want to hire me? I would want to see someone who wants this so bad, they’d do anything.” So that’s what I wrote.

___________________________

I imagine your ideal candidate for this position would be someone with extensive experience in the gaming industry. Luckily, I am just that candidate. I landed on Zebes along with Samus when I played the original Metroid on my brother’s Nintendo Entertainment System. I hunted ducks and stomped goombas and got a sword from an old man because it was too dangerous to go alone. As the years progressed, I lost some rings to Dr. Robotnik, picked up some upgrades from Dr. Light, and I even traveled through time with Crono, Marle, and Lucca. I’ve raced karts, memorized the Konami code, assassinated Templars, and I even defeated some zerg.

I have learned from the best video game writers because I have played some of the best video game narratives. Red Dead Redemption, Ocarina of Time, Portal, and the list could go on and on. I took creative writing courses in college and I have read voraciously for as long as I can remember. Given my deep interest and immersion in video games, fiction, and constant writing of my own, I am positive that I can make a powerful contribution to your writing staff.

__________________________

The closing paragraph went on to say that I’m trying to relocate, not just willing to, and that they should call me because I’m the best, etc. etc. I’ve written a few other cover letters like this, where I try to punch it up with humor and video game references to show that I’m a passionate gamer, not just another schlup looking for a job. But this one felt different somehow. I don’t think I was really trying to be funny, I think it was one of the few times I was trying to yell through paper, without caps or bold or italics or underline or exclamation marks. I am a gamer, I am a real gamer, I have played real games, and I unabashedly say that I love them so much. Let me love what I do everyday. Please.

If one of you doesn’t get me a job soon, you’re just gonna keep getting more posts like this. Ha, see how I put this on you now? Suckers.


So I committed to playing LttP, and I even got through a good chunk of it, and then I thought “meh, I don’t want to play this right now.” And as I started trying to think of other games to play, I started hearing the small voice in the back of my head saying “You must finish LttP! You must post a blog about it!”

HEY! LISTEN!

I imagine the voice in my head like Navi. And I hate it.

This is atrocious to say but last week I didn’t game at all. AT ALL. And as you can see, I also didn’t blog. Because of this damn nagging voice in my head! And then, at the end of last week (before I went away for the weekend which prohibited gaming or blogging), it dawned on me: gaming is not a chore.

Along the same line, this blog is not a chore. This blog is awesome. Gaming is awesome. And they’re awesome because I’m deciding what I write, when I write it, what I play, and when I play it. So last week when gog.com had a sale and I bought Lands of Lore 1 & 2 (LoL 1 being perhaps THE quintessential game of my childhood that I’ve never finished) and desperately wanted to jump right in? I could’ve, and I should’ve. So shut up, brain voice. No one likes you. You make gaming and blogging un-fun and I have no room for that in my life.

I’m gonna go play a classic dungeon crawler by Westwood Studios. See you guys in a few days when I’m so excited about it that I’ll write a blog post.


As I alluded to in my first post, I’m graduating from college soon, but unfortunately I still have the hurdle of finals week to jump through. I wrote my first post because it was on my mind and I wanted to at least get things going, but I knew that after that the blog would be stagnant for a few weeks while I wrapped up a hellish semester.

My last day of classes was on Wednesday and my first final is on Saturday. The intelligent person would have spent the past two days writing his or her research paper. Unfortunately, I am not the intelligent person.

Yesterday I tried out AirMech which is in alpha testing in the Chrome web browser, so it’s free! I didn’t do my homework, so I’m not sure if Carbon Games plans to keep the game free or not. Anyway, it’s fun enough, but almost exactly like League of Legends except you’re a robot/airplane instead of a mythical creature . . . I’ll probably keep it in my Chrome apps but I doubt I’ll revisit it any time soon. Having said that, I love everything indie, so props to Carbon Games for putting out a good product in a popular niche that people are playing a lot these days.

After I gave AirMech a run through, I tried out the Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances browser game (also free and in beta testing right now). I never actually played Command & Conquer back in its hey day so I don’t know how much of this iteration is just the old game put in browser, but for a C&C virgin like myself, so far it’s been fun. Lots of base building, not a whole lot of action so far, but you get to battle other players and join alliances with others as well so I think it has some potential to be entertaining enough.

And then earlier this afternoon I saw a Kotaku headline about Shigeru Miyamoto toying with the idea of making a sequel to A Link to the Past for the 3DS. My nostalgia gland went into overdrive as I thought about how fun that game is to play, and how (you guessed it) I never finished it so it’s on The List! I played it for about 6 hours tonight and got through two castles in the dark world before I realized a) I should write about this and b) I need to sleep.

NOSTALGIA

NOSTALGIA

I think it would be pointless to review this game: everyone should play it, it’s incredibly fun and is just a well-made game with an engaging story. If you don’t play it . . . I almost said something really rude, but I’ll keep that to myself. Just play the game. What I do feel like sharing though are impressions as I delve back into this world.

A) Wow, Twilight Princess was really just a remake, huh? Dark world, light world? I recently heard someone say they hated the Zelda series because everything is pretty much the same, and actually, I had to acquiesce to this person’s point. However, I say if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Obviously people love the rote gameplay of Zelda (including myself) so more power to Nintendo. The last Zelda series game I played was Twilight Princess so it has been cool to see the origin of a lot of the ins & outs of TwiPri (is that a thing? I don’t want it to be but I’m gonna leave it) in ALttP (that can’t be a thing, but again, I’m just gonna abbreviate).

B) That music! As it all started up again I was loving it! Bobbing my head, chair dancing, making syllabic noises along with the instrumentals! And then I realized every theme is no more than 12 bars repeated, over and over and over . . . Granted that’s true of a lot of videos games now, and particularly a lot of earlier video games. But still, it’s an interesting comparison between music now and then. And who am I kidding, I still love it. NOSTALGIA.

C) I watched my brothers play this so often that I know where everything is even having never beaten it before. It’s fun pretending that I’m really good at video games.

How did people ever find this?

How did people ever find this? Granted, it's kind of random so logic would say "just try to bomb it" but man, the no-crack-in-the-wall bomb spot . . . good thing I remember my brothers blowing it up.

D) You guys, I am really bad at video games. Throughout the quests for the 3 pendants and even all the way up to fighting the wizard in the light world, I was cooking! I don’t think I died once, I was just going to town on all of those baddies. Then I hit the dark world dungeons and I died about a million times. Give or take a few hundred thousand. Seriously, I am bad. I’m confident I’ll get better but man. There was much swearing. And much wishing I could mod armor or something modern gaming-ish like that for Link. Although I gotta say, the Master Sword with full health is always a fun combination.

2nd Crystal Dungeon Boss

This clown took me way too long to even get to, and I feel bad about myself because of it.

E) The modern gaming notion of hording and checking every nook and cranny for potential items is great to apply to older games. I was grass cutting and bush whacking in every frame and got 999 rupees in no time. And then I bought the Zora flippers and spent the rest of my dough increasing my bomb and arrow maximums, and then I got 999 again.

Anyway, that’s all for now. My “official” ALttP post will be up once I finish the game but, in an effort to actually pass my final exams, that may not happen for a week or so. If you have any commentary or questions about Zelda, AirMech, or C&C, leave a comment!