Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Neutopia Vs. Zelda (Or Much Ado About Nothing)

So, I finished up Neutopia a moment ago and wanted to ramble about it. First, I'll say that it's pretty friggin' sweet no matter how you look at it. Some negative things have been said about Neutopia and its relationship to Zelda. Well, as with most Zelda related topics, I'll rant an opinion about it here.

If we're comparing Neutopia to the original Legend of Zelda, Neutopia is a better game in a few ways. But it also loses a few steps here and there by virtue of its not being a complete clone.

Firstly, these bosses are more reminiscent of A Link to the Past than they are LoZ. And I'm sure there's an almost unanimous consensus of Zelda players would agree that LttP has better bosses than LoZ. You can't just manhandle a boss with a single bomb: You have to fight them all with your sword or with the rod. This is something they could have employed in the original Zelda game, but they simply opted not to.

Secondly, (and this is just through the merits of superior hardware): Neutopia has more and better music. Most of it's pretty fitting, although that dungeon theme gets tiresome after a while.

Of course the graphics are better, but 8-bit Hyrule has its charms. Finally, I would add that the text LoZ might have had if translation ability and game space allowed is in Neutopia. "BURN THE TREE AT THE DEAD END." has been replaced with something along the lines of "Your fire rod can burn down trees. Try it out in various places to find secrets." Since I played LoZ first.. I had to figure that shit out the hard way (and by the hard way, I mean look up the location of a dungeon, at which point I found out that candles burn trees. doh!).

One area that Neutopia sort of loses completely to LoZ in is the way the original Zelda game was conducted. It's a very unique game that hasn't been followed up on (at least by another Zelda game). There is no help in Zelda. They don't tell you what to do. They just say, "Hey! Ganon kidnapped Zelda. Go find some triangles!" And that's it. Who knows which way to go? In fact, there are numerous ways you could go. You could play Level-2 first if you were so inclined. You don't have to get all of the items. You don't even have to get the sword until it's time to fight Ganon.

Oh yeah, LoZ has a Second Quest. Can't forget that. But in fairness to Neutopia, I'd submit that the bad collision detection and infinitely more challenging bosses make some parts of Neutopia as hard as Quest 2 of Zelda. So it's almost equal, but LoZ wins by a nose for having more content.

A more interesting comparison would be Neutopia and A Link to the Past. A Link to the Past was made later, and they're very similar. One has to wonder if Neutopia had a little influence on Zelda too.

But anyway, I think that the flack that Neutopia gets for being a clone is mostly unmerited. Nintendo doesn't have a monopoly on a damsel in distress stories. Medieval Europe has that. Nor does it have a monopoly on collecting mystical items to save a given land. The hero myths that preceded Zelda have that. But Neutopia should have came up with some new items aside from the few that they did. You burn down trees and you bomb walls in the center of the room. Those mechanics are just blatant copying.

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